|Julie lives in Accra and works in the
budget dept. of the Ministry of Education. On at least
one Saturday she takes ABA TOUR participants to Makola
Market, a big, sprawling outdoor market that can be
confusing without orientation. The morning passes
quickly, but there is always a stop at the cloth sellers.
After lunch, Julie and the group go to her dressmakers
house where the newly purchased cloth is made into
outfits. Since the dressmaker works at home, this also
gives visitors an opportunity to visit a typical city
Ben is from Odumase/Krobo, a famous beadmaking village. He returns to the village frequently, sometimes every weekend, to attend to family matters, but he lives in Accra and works for the Ministry of Education writing the art curriculum for the public schools. He is also earning a Masters Degree at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. His dissertation is on basket use and construction. Ben is a partner in Aba Tours. He oversees ground arrangements. He meets us at the airport and is our contact person in Accra. Although he has worked with many Aba Tour participants, he delights in each new contact and opportunity to introduce Ghana to visitors. Because of his crafts background, Ben is an important liaison to the craftspeople in Ghana. He can arrange visits, lessons and buying opportunities with them.
Mrs. Adipah is Ben's mother. She is in her 80's and often meets with Aba Tours participants. We are forever questioning her about how things use to be. I asked her once if she minded that we ask so many questions. She said no, but she didn't understand why we wanted to know all these things. Mrs. Adipah does not speak English. Ben acts as her interpreter. She is a Krobo woman which means that she is very serious about her bead collection. She shows it to us and talks about the history of beads.
Felicia loves to cook traditional Ghanaian food for Aba Tours and she is the best cook in Ghana! Each itinerary includes at least one visit to her house for dinner. Her favorite expression is "eat all". She serves too much food, but heaven help you if you leave any on the plate. Dinner with Felicia offers the added adventure of visiting someone's home and learning first hand about the culture. On a recent visit she taught the women how to wrap head scarves. Felicia works at the post office and although she lives in Accra, she grew up in Mpraeso, a well known pottery village. Sometimes she takes us to Mpraeso to visit the potters and invites us to stay in her uncles house....and she does the cooking.
Mami Aquia is a traditional potter in Mpraeso and is related to Felicia. When we are in Mpraeso we visit her house, watch her work, and sometimes take lessons from her. She finds our attempts at making pottery amusing, but she is happy that we try. She says that many visitors want to learn by watching, but she feels that you can only learn by putting your hands in the clay. She is a patient teacher. Kakra..kakra..is her mantra..slowly..slowly and the pot will form.
Sammy has a Masters Degree in Education and teaches at a girls training college in Hohoe, a town in the Volta Region close to Togo. Sammy is married to a teacher and they have four children. Sammy is another one of our crafts connections. He is a potter and our liaison when we travel in the Volta Region.
Nomoda E. Djaba, known to everyone as Mr. Cedi is owner and director of Retado Bead Industry in Odumase-Krobo. He works closely with Aba Tours and when in his village, we stay at his house and visit his glass beadmaking studio. We are offered the opportunity to take lessons at his workshop, visit the famous twice a week beadmarket with him and are able to purchase beads directly from him. Cedi is married and has 2 small children. Cedi's wife owns and runs a small general merchandise shop in Odumase-Krobo. She is not involved in the bead making. Cedi also participates in Aba Tour visiting artists programs and comes to Boston to offer workshops and lectures on traditional Ghanaian beadmaking.